This October, our guest is Trenton Lee Stewart, author of The Mysterious Benedict Society series.
When the words “ARE YOU A GIFTED CHILD LOOKING FOR SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES?” appears in an advertisement in the local paper, orphan Reynie Muldoon is intrigued. While Reynie may look like an average eleven-year-old, his mind is definitely anything but average. The advertisement leads Reynie to a baffling series of unusual tests and even more unusual children: Sticky Washington, a nervous, bespectacled, quiz show champion with an astounding photographic memory; Kate Wetherall, an effusive athletic prodigy armed with a red bucket; and Constance Contraire, a grumpy, willful girl with a knack for creating insulting poetry and a notorious need for naps.
The children soon learn about a nefarious, top-secret world headquartered in their very own town, headed by Ledroptha Curtain, an evil genius, and protected by an elite set of deadly (though oddly charming) henchmen called the Ten Men. Over the course of three books, the children travel around the globe and navigate through the underworld of their hometown to undo Mr. Curtain’s terrible plans for world domination through an ominous machine called the Whisperer.
It’s difficult to say which is more enjoyable in this series – the action or the camaraderie. The amazing riddles, puzzles, twists, turns, pursuits, narrow escapes, and brushes with danger make this book unlike any other. But the relationship between Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance as they use their separate talents, strengths, and weaknesses to work as a team is incredible and goes to show that you don’t need superpowers to be a true hero. You just need to be true to your friends - and true to yourself.
The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma books were both New York Times bestsellers. The first book in the series won the E.B. White Read Aloud Award and was listed as an ALA Notable Book. The paperback version of the third book is due out this month, as is the box set of all three books.